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WSJ to charge for mobile news in 1-2 months

updated 06:10 pm EDT, Tue September 15, 2009

WSJ mobile to go to pay system

The Wall Street Journal will start asking those using the mobile version of its news to pay for the privilege, newspaper owner and News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch warned today. Although the company currently offers its phone-optimized version for free, a new plan launching within "one to two months" will ask non-subscribers to any WSJ edition to pay $2 per week for mobile access. Those who pay for either the online or print editions will have the rate cut in half, and only those who subscribe to both will get the mobile format for free.

It's unclear whether it will apply to all delivery methods right away, though the most immediate targets are likely to be both a BlackBerry-friendly version as well as the native iPhone app. The newspaper has often hinted that the iPhone version in particular may not remain free but has never set out definite plans until today.

Murdoch admitted that the climate for ad-supported online content was "much better" but justified the move as a push to generate more revenue from the usually low-revenue, but now more popular, mobile space.

The paper has in recent years been one of the few to charge for access to much of its content online and has been relatively successful in the process. Although major competitors like the New York Times have been relatively successful with a completely free model, many others have struggled or at times collapsed altogether as the ad revenue from online has often not been enough to make up for rapidly dropping subscriber numbers for the physical publication.

Larger publishers like Hearst have considered making their own e-book readers as an alternative to Murdoch's model, as it would keep users on paid subscriptions but with the added conveniences of online delivery.

By Electronista Staff


  1. bjojade

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2007



    With a print paper, you typically don't have a free alternative in the bin next to the WSJ. You have to pay to get any of them.

    On the internet though, there are other news channels just a click away. I don't see this being successful to any major degree except for true WSJ addicts. I can just as easily bookmark another news source on my phone.

  1. Jeronimo2000

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Bye bye

    Aaaah, digging their own greedy grave. And we all can watch.

  1. bobolicious

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Aug 2002


    goodbye, goodbye...

    ...I already shun sites requiring an email address & 'account' - how much readership will the WSJ advertisers miss with such an aggressive strategy - it's not about the money - it's about privacy, data mining, targeted advertising & the hassle to me...

  1. reddogslc

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2009


    Free Press

    In the electronic age if WSJ isn't careful people are going to fine an open source, free or cheaper solution with a more objective outlook and with a far broader reader base then what WSJ currently shows. Its a new media set point, and if they don't leave the old mental approach to the way things have been done in the pass for the future collaborative methodology. They will go the way of the Dodo bird. For me I enjoy a few of WSJ articles, but if they go out up to the throne, I'll find a different hall to read in.

  1. gojosh

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2004


    Smart move

    I'll gladly pay for the quality of the reporting and insightful editorials. I'm dubious that there is a sustainable future for online "free" ad-supported models. People who find other news sources to be equally valuable aren't the target audience anyway.

  1. Schatz

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Oct 2004


    RE: Smart move

    Print is hurting, everyone knows this. If you think the major newspapers can continue giving their content away for the peanuts that web ads pay then you are naive. If you think the same old junk yahoo news, resold over and over is high quality, well you get what you deserve.

    I don't know if this will work, WSJ is probably better suited than others, but something has to give.

  1. Stuke

    Junior Member

    Joined: Feb 2005


    Acceptable Quality is the Model

    WIRED Magazine ran a story recently on "acceptable quality" and the idea was the Flip camcorder, the .mp3 music format, and other "items" are not top quality but acceptable to the mass who use them and help grow their popularity to a point where someone turns it into a business. So, is WSJ the American Express of newspapers, meaning, are they going to charge more than the competition to hold an elite clientele? Well, good luck because the "model" will show that "acceptable quality" news reporting will become the majority news reporting, right or wrong, and that those news reporting outlets that remain free will be the success in the industry in the long run. Period. The model has been created and more and more businesses are using the mold.

  1. gojosh

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2004


    Re: Acceptable quality

    This is a useful metric to be sure, but I think there is room and demand in the market for different approaches. To use a different parallel from the technology industry, Apple is an example of a company that is not willing to pursue PC market share at the expense of quality and experience, and instead focuses on the higher-margin segment of the market that demands higher quality. I think Murdoch's attempts at repositioning the Journal as a direct competitor to the NY Times were mistaken, and this decision seems more in line with its traditional business-centric market.

  1. macnixer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2006


    greedy someone?

    $2 per week is just too much for the subscription on the iPhone. If they have a model where I could get the news on the iPhone or the web, I am okay with it.

  1. bfalchuk

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jul 2003


    Bad move

    $2/week is astronomical. What they should have done was charged for the app from the start - $9.99 one time, and move on. I'd pay that. I'd never pay $104 per year for this. I'll just use my Bloomberg app, which has similar news items, but other, more useful features. Very short sighted and ignorant of alternative options.

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